Litigation settlement and collusion

Robert C. Marshall, Michael J. Meurer, Jean Francois Richard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Private enforcement of regulatory policy is a significant feature of many government-sponsored contests, such as procurements. Although private enforcement is supposed to promote social welfare, we show that competitors can use it to achieve collusive outcomes. In a noncooperative duopoly setting, we show that the threat of litigation, and the possibility of settlement can dramatically affect ex ante competition in the relevant market. Essentially, the settlement process provides a legal mechanism for the exchange of side-payments, while the possibility of a court decision provides the plaintiff with a credible threat against the defendant so as to avert cheating. The result does not require repeated play, ex ante contracts, or other commitment devices. In the federal procurement context, we show that our results are robust to alterations in the court remedy, bargaining power of the litigants, and many other factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-239
Number of pages29
JournalQuarterly Journal of Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics


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